If you have been injured at work and filed a claim, you’ve probably been assigned a date for a settlement conference. Before that date arrives, you may also hear your lawyer mention the prospect of mediation. Both events involve the two sides coming together to work towards a resolution, but what are the differences between the two? We explain in today’s blog.
Minnesota Work Comp Settlement Conference
As we noted above, if you filed a workers’ compensation claim, you’re probably somewhat familiar with a settlement conference. That’s because a settlement conference is automatically scheduled once a claim is filed. In general, these conferences are scheduled roughly six months from the claim file date. If you live far away, these conferences can take place over the phone, or they may take place in person.
Settlement conferences are scheduled to last one hour, so it won’t take up too much of your time. A judge presides over the conference, but the judge is there to help both sides reach a settlement, not to issue a legally-binding ruling. If a settlement can’t be reach between the two sides, the claim will head to trial and a different judge will be assigned to hear the case and make an official ruling.
Conferences are oftentimes postponed or cancelled altogether because of a variety of different factors. If you are still receiving medical care or there is a key point that both sides disagree on, a settlement conference isn’t going to accomplish anything, so it can be postponed or cancelled so a trial can be scheduled.
Minnesota Work Comp Mediation Session
Mediation is similar to a settlement conference but it is more informal, although a mediation session usually takes longer than one hour. If both sides feel that they could benefit from mediation, they will find a mutually agreed upon expert who is knowledgeable about workers’ compensation law to act as a mediator.
If mediation is in your future, you will sit down with your attorney and developed a thorough case evaluation as well as a settlement proposal. You attorney will also submit any necessary information or confidential medical forms to the mediator to review prior to the mediation session.
In a typical mediation, the two parties will be in two separate conference rooms and the mediator will bounce back and forth listening to their arguments, their evidence and their proposed resolutions. This can take anywhere from 2-6 hours. After listening to all arguments, the mediator will propose a solution to both sides. Oftentimes the proposed solution involves concessions on both sides, which makes sense, because if one side was getting everything they wanted, the other side would simply decide to take the case in front of a judge.
If mediation results in a fair settlement and both sides agree, the claim can be settled right there. However, if one or both sides do not agree with the proposed mediation offer, then the case will continue towards the settlement conference or trial date. There is no harm in pursuing mediation, because you can always walk away from an offer and take your case before a judge. That being said, it is a good way to find a middle ground that appeases both sides, because a judge may not see it the same way as the mediator.
At the end of the day, if a settlement conference, mediation or a trial is in your future, you’ll want a Minnesota workers’ compensation lawyer by your side. The insurance company will have at least one attorney, and they may be able to make a much better case to the mediator or judge than you can on your own, so trust your case to a lawyer who can lay out the facts and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Dean Margolis today.
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